1. I recently read portions of Preventing Ministry Failure by Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffman. This is a very good book, which I am working through slowly. The following are quotes I thought were particularly good.
“Lack of intimacy is the biggest factor for ministry burnout and failure. When we isolate ourselves and withdraw from deep relationship with others for whatever reason – feeling misunderstood, fear of exposure, feelings of superiority, being too busy, not wanting to “air our dirty laundry” – the slope into ministry failure becomes very slippery.” (p. 11)
“If we don’t get our innermost needs met in our personal relationship with God and with our spouse and close friends, we’ll inevitably begin to crave praise from those we lead.” (p. 18)
“What matters most in our lives are those things related to our intimate relationships (God, friends and spouse) and to our calling.” (p. 28)
The authors suggest seven foundation stones that can help ground us in skills to ensure long-term effectiveness. These include:
Who you are – Intimacy, Calling.
What you value – Stress Management, Boundaries, Re-creation.
How you relate – People Skills, Leadership Skills.
Consider, for example, the importance of “What You Value.” These foundation stones are stress management, boundaries, and re-creation. A failure to manage stress can result in a person turning to a variety of unhealthy substances and behaviors in order to cope. A failure to set boundaries will result in a lesser calling taking priority over a truly more important calling. A failure to practice recreation can result in a much shorter life in ministry.
2. Our church is reading Peter Scazzero’s Daily Office: Remembering God’s Presence Throughout the Day. This is an outstanding little book that has really connected with people in our congregation (including me).
3. Don’t miss this interchange between two N.T. scholars, Scot McKnight and Ben Witherington. This is an interview based on Scot McKnight’s most recent book, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited. The first post is here.
4. “He wants everybody to think he is important.” I cringed when I heard this church member say this about one of their ministers. Whether this is true or not, he nevertheless has left this impression. Ministers leave this impression when we seem eager to drop names. When we repeat again and again who has called us on the telephone or who has asked us to speak. Sometimes we do this as we communicate just how important our congregations are.
Is this really what we want to model? We might want to reflect on the ego need that is being met through such crass self-promotion. Meanwhile some in our congregations who live in the corporate world where everybody is jockeying for position will see through this for what it is.